Choosing a massage therapist is a very personal choice – this person, male or female, will be touching almost every part of the body while the client is in a very vulnerable position. Often, once a client finds someone that they like, they tend to continue to visit them on a regular basis. So when someone is assaulted by a person they have trusted for weeks, months, and even years, and violates that trust, it can be difficult to speak about it.
The plaintiff, in this case, who chooses to be referred to as “Cindy Doe”, found herself in that very position – someone she trusted to massage her sore and aching muscles, violated her.
The plaintiff began to visit the Massage Envy in West Chester, PA in September of 2014. She was paired with a male therapist who worked on her without incident from September to December of 2014. Things changed, however, in January of 2015.
The first incident was just a small warning of what was to come in the future. The plaintiff was lying on the massage table under a sheet. The massage was proceeding as usual when suddenly she noticed that the therapists hands were wandering higher than they should have on her thigh. She warned him to lower his hands and not go as high again. At the time, she figured he just wasn’t paying attention and had made a mistake.
The second and final incident occurred in April of 2015. In the middle of her massage, the therapist suddenly placed his penis in her hand and moved it against her while penetrating her vagina with his fingers. She left feeling horrified, embarrassed, and confused about how she should handle the situation.
She has reported that as a result of her experience she “has suffered and continues to suffer great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life…”
One month later another woman was assaulted. This victim went immediately to the West Goshen Police Department and reported what happened. The police pulled the therapist in for questioning and he admitted to numerous assaults, including the assault of “Cindy Doe”. He was arrested and charged with his crimes.
The plaintiff, in this case, is alleging that the company knew that her therapist had previously assaulted other clients in a similar manner. She alleges that they were negligent because:
- they allowed him to continue working even after a sexual assault had been reported to employees
- they continued to refer female clients to him
- they did not warn his clients of the previous incident even know they knew the clients would be in an exposed and vulnerable position
- they failed to inform the Pennsylvania Board of Massage Therapy about the prior incidents, allowing the
- therapist to maintain his license in good standing
She pointed out that even after the first victim to come forward had reported her experience to an employee, the company responded by merely suspending the therapist for one week and did not in anyway place restrictions on him when he returned to work.
Massage Envy Allegations Nationwide
Massage Envy franchises can be found in all 50 states. At this time, there are more than 50 complaints alleging that a massage therapist sexually assaulted a client in around fifteen different states.
Each suit claims that the company protocol requests that employees handle any reports of inappropriate behavior that they receive “in-house”. Reports will be made to the headquarters in Arizona, but not to local law enforcement.